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Aiptek i70 Pico projector review: A surprising device I didn’t know I wanted





The Aiptek i70 is a tiny projector that connects to your Android or iPhone with consummate ease. It’s not going to replace your TV set anytime soon, and nor is it really supposed to, but it did get me considering a future without a TV, and obviously, they’re useful in a business setting too.

Admittedly, projectors aren’t something that pop up on my radar all too frequently, but this one piqued my interest for a few reasons.

Aiptek i70 review: Hardware and Design

The i70’s key appeal to me is its size. It’s a tiny flat rectangle of a device that you could easily pop in your pocket, should you wish to take it out and about with you – and that’s really the point of a projector this small, whether that’s for work (presentations, collaborating with colleagues, etc.) or leisure. Where it struggles is exactly where you think it might, and where all projectors live or die: how bright the projection is/how dark the room needs to be for it to be used effectively. On paper, that’s 70 lumens for the i70.

Taking the unit’s diminutive size into consideration, it does surprisingly well – you certainly don’t need a pitch black room to use it in, but you’re also not going to get a very good experience if trying to use it for a large projection in daylight. The smaller the image you’re projecting, the brighter it appears – there’s no keystone adjustment options for the offset, meaning you’ll end up balancing it on something if you need to angle it upwards, rather than flat. It’s the same for zoom – meaning there is none, and you just need to place it as near or far away as you need for your desired projection size.

For the maximum image size of 80-inches, you’ll want it about two metres away from your screen/surface.

What this might amount to so far is a fairly negative-seeming review, but that’s really not the case. Projectors, Pico or not, aren’t for everyone (at least right now) and how useful they are to you will depend on your use case.

Sure, if I had hoped that the Aiptek i70 would replace my TV, thereby freeing up the space taken up by the huge black box, then I’d be disappointed, but that was never the intention. And remember, it measures just 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.7 cm and weighs 136g, which is about 30 grams lighter than the average baseball.


Aiptek i70 review: My experience

What I have used it for, however, has been to stream TV and movies onto my bedroom wall and ceiling; to show some large-scale, low-resolution photos to family in my lounge, and occasionally to project an episode of a TV show onto the wall while I cook dinner. And in these tasks, it’s been excellent. Mostly.

I did have one problem: the first time I used the unit, the integrated speaker (which is, in almost all situations, not what you want to be listening to content through) worked just fine. It never worked again after that though. This wasn’t really a problem for me specifically, as my house is scattered with Bluetooth speakers, which is what I was using the rest of the time. Assuming it may be faulty, had this been a regular unit, I’d have returned it for an exchange (this is a review unit that has since been returned to the company).

You can use it off its internal battery for around an hour, though the stated life is 80 minutes, otherwise you’ll be using it while plugged in via microUSB.

It’s real appeal, however, is the convenience offered by the overall package – it connected to both iOS and Android devices simply in my testing (though if you have an old model that doesn’t support iOS 10, you should return it for a newer model that does), and offered up an HDMI port for those times when I needed to plug it in.

For £250, it’s not a no-brainer purchase, and it’s not a perfect one either. While the image quality is actually pretty decent if you give it the dim conditions it craves, it’s not really bright enough to satisfy if used as your only entertainment device, but it’s a great, portable, and flexible option for anyone that does find the need for one now and again.

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I'm a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run're welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoodsTech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit

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Batwing HD review: A fun £80 drone with a novel design



Christmas has come and gone, and with it a Batman drone by Propel turned up in the post unexpectedly. So naturally, the only thing to do was to put together a Batwing HD review for anyone else interested in the themed quadcopter.

At £80 with a 720p HD (2MP) camera, it’s not the cheapest option around, though it is also available without the camera for £30 less if footage isn’t important to you. If you want to jump to a specific section of the review, you can do that with the links below.

Design and hardware

As you might expect given the Batman-theming of this drone, it’s toy/hobby, grade. That doesn’t take away from the overall positive first impression that the plastic chassis delivers and the unmistakable enjoyment that’ll surge through you the first time you fly the Batwing directly overhead and look up to see the Batman logo overhead, but it still feels like a bit too plasticky for my liking.

Unlike a DJI or Parrot, the Batwing was conceived more for fun than capturing amazing footage from onboard cameras, so keep your video expectations realistic.

The front-facing 720p camera will record footage directly to an onboard microSD card (not included). Tapping the record button on the controller switches recording on and off. There’s no facility to view a live-feed from the camera as with an FPV drone.

As long as it’s a bright, still, sunny day you’ll get a respectable image out of the camera, but don’t go expecting miracles in any less favourable conditions.

On the bottom side of the drone, you get flashing red and white/blue lights to indicate back and front when airborne, but they’re too dull to see on any sort of bright day. They’ll come in handy if you’re flying indoors though.

Those are controller extensions, not bat ears.

While many drones put the propellers on the top, the Batwing has them on the bottom, meaning you’ll probably want to use the prop guard if you’re not happy launching from your hand. Again, you’ll probably want it on if you’re flying it indoors anyway.

It’s these propellers that are the main problem for the Batwing drone, as they’re transparent and have a tendency to pop off at the slightest crash landing.

It comes with a 2.4GHz controller that’s a little smaller than expected, but perfectly functional. Along the top of the controller, there are buttons for taking off/landing, changing the speed/control sensitivity, controlling camera recording and performing stunts.

In use

The Batwing HD drone is really simple to get ready for its first flight. You just need to push the props on (in the correct A and B positions), pop in the battery, pair the controller (with the traditional up-down of the left stick) and you’re ready to go.

There’s an auto-takeoff and land function on the controller, but you can override this by holding both control sticks diagonally inward towards each other until the lights flash on the drone. Once they have, pushing the left throttle stick forwards will allow you to takeoff manually.

As someone that’s flown a few different toy and hobby grade drones, but wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a proficient pilot, it was slightly disappointing to hit the auto takeoff button for the first time in my kitchen, only to have the drone launch directly up, scoot forwards and tangle itself up with the dishes.

One prop broken.

Put on new prop.

Same thing happens again.

Decide that testing it outside might be smarter until I’ve got the hang of it.

Fast-forward to Boxing Day and I was visiting a friend in the countryside with a paddock. A perfect opportunity to test the Batwing HD, or it would have been if it hadn’t been so windy. Nonetheless, testing apprehensively went ahead.

Within a few minutes, I’d got the hang of piloting the Batwing, though did find the 4 channel mode considerably easier than 3 channel, which is the reverse of what you’d expect.

As I was at a friend’s house, he also wanted a turn at flying. Within two minutes he was climbing to the top of the closest tree to retrieve the Batwing, which had crash-landed and lodged itself after 90 seconds of trouble-free flight.

If you look really closely, you can see my friend retrieving the Batwing from a tree.

I feared the worst, having broken two props in far less severe crashes in my kitchen, but to my surprise there was no damage whatsoever, and all the blades remained intact and in place.

Once retrieved and recharged, hitting the stunt button on the top right of the controller didn’t do anything in the strong wind but executed the expected flips during a later indoor flight. It claims to be able to take the flips at high-speed, so it would have been nice to test where there was enough room to put that claim to the test. The claimed 200ft flight range seems about right for the flight test and it didn’t inexplicably lose contact with the controller.

How the aforementioned bat ears attach

Changing between the different speed modes makes a big difference (as you’d expect) between the handling characteristics, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the Batwing if you go at full speed in fastest mode as it has a tendency to lose altitude very quickly due to the pitch of the nose. It’s a lot of fun though, and doesn’t take much learning.


Guess who crash landed it in wet grass repeatedly before taking photos?

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Review: CHiP is fun, but a robot dog probably is just for Christmas



WowWee, a company that makes robotic toys, essentially, has launched CHiP, a robot dog designed to entertain all ages. I’ve spent the last few weeks living with CHiP to see if he can measure up to the real thing.

As someone who desperately wants a real dog, but can’t have one for various reasons, I was keen to try CHiP out. That’s to say, I really wanted to be impressed by CHiP.

In a nutshell, CHiP is made of a durable plastic (it can take some knocks and tumbles – sorry, CHiP) and is a ‘smart’ and trainable robo-dog. Reward him for behaviours you like via the included wristband or simply have him follow you around.


He comes with some pre-set commands too, as you’d expect – like asking him to sit, lie down, dance or ‘do yoga’. You do need to be really precise with the commands though to get him to respond – you can’t just say ‘dance’, you have to say ‘let’s dance’, for example.

CHiP also arrived with a ‘smart ball’ that he can play with, if you so command, and there’s an iOS and Android app for controlling CHiP remotely and changing settings, like the volume of the sound effects, which is one advantage it has over a real dog – you can’t turn down the volume on a bark when you want some respite normally.

While CHiP was fun for a while, the required precision for voice commands to work and seeming lack of ability to do certain things (I never successfully got CHiP to follow me around) meant he ended up cast aside soon enough. It was only when two and four-year-old nephews came to visit that more of CHiP’s potential shone through – they absolutely loved it and immediately started acting towards it as they do real dogs.

The clunky voice commands were a bit too much for them to accurately pull off a lot of the time, but with some help they could fully enjoy CHiP and his energetic yoga poses. When it’s all a bit too much and CHiP needs to recharge, it automatically returns to the charger, which is a neat touch.

As a replacement dog for an adult, CHiP isn’t going to live up to any expectations you may have but for parents with a young family, he’ll certainly keep them entertained for a few hours.

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Review: Anki’s AI robot trucks are pricey fun for all ages



Last year, Anki’s Overdrive robot car racing Starter Kit really impressed me. For anyone uninitiated, it’s like a hybrid cross that blends Scalextric with video games, and quickly became my ‘Christmas gift of the year’.

The hybrid approach means you get physical cars driving on physical tracks and ‘shooting’ each other with virtual weaponry, all controlled from the comfort of your smartphone, so there’s no concern about losing the controllers either.

This year, the company is looking to capitalise on the festive period by launching trucks as a new vehicle category – anyone that’s familiar with the game will get to grips with the trucks quickly, though they do have a slightly different control system.


Instead of using a slider to control the throttle (as the cars do), the racing trucks have a button that looks like an accelerator, and responds much more slowly than the equivalent slider. That’s to be expected though, trucks just aren’t ever going to accelerate like a car, though the top speed seems to be comparable.

The controls for the weapons are also placed differently, and there’s a new ‘Rage’ mode that you activate by filling your ‘Rage Meter’ (by continually accelerating) – once activated, just driving past other vehicles will inflict damage and knock them off the track. It’s extra fun on the occasions that the vehicles that have been knocked off track seem to almost magically make their way back on, though not always.

For anyone with an Anki Overdrive Starter Kit (or other Anki kits), the addition of trucks to the mix is a bit of a no-brainer, with one caveat: things are going to get expensive quickly. Racing trucks against cars might not seem fair, for example, which means you’ll really need to shell out for two trucks, which cost £60 each at their retail price.

That means just to buy the Overdrive Starter Kit and 2 trucks (you’d also get 2 cars included in the kit) would cost around £270, and that’s no cheap Christmas gift.

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